Photo caption: Percentage of American adolescents endorsing “none” for religious affiliation, 1966–2014.

Not exactly groundbreaking news, but new data has emerged from a comprehensive study in the US. The journal PLOS published results a study that monitored religiosity of grades 8 to college bound students by surveying 11.2 million. Read the article for comprehensive results, but the highlights include the doubling of college bound students claiming ‘no religious affiliation’, up from 30 years ago.

Churches have long noted the absence of the millennial generation, but have largely thought subtle changes in strategic direction pertaining to church services would be the magic bullet. Within the Christian worldview the idea may seem hopeful, but the data continues to emerge suggesting very little, if anything, is working to attract millennials back to church.

The study also notes that the millennial generation aren’t the only ones on the way out.

Overall, religious affiliation is declining, and although it continues to remain a minority, it is a growing minority that steadily increases year over year. The impact from the rise of immigration, coupled with the loss of religiosity among all demographics, will not only shift church culture, but public policy as well.

The study continues to affirm the overall cultural shift,

“Millennial adolescents are less religious than Boomers and GenX’ers were at the same age. [The study] also looked at younger ages than the previous studies. More of today’s adolescents are abandoning religion before they reach adulthood, with an increasing number not raised with religion at all.”

How does the church response?

Facing massive cultural shift it may be appealing to conclude where in the midst of a, “rummage sale” a term popularized by Phyllis Tickle to describe the impending collapse of Christianity.

Don’t expect the overnight collapse of Christianity. Expect the slow burn out of influence, prestige, & privilege.

But don’t weep just yet, the challenge is an opportunity in disguise if you consider that the Gospel is news that thrives when it’s thrust into culture under the guise of subversion.